Sightings for March 2008
After yesterday's promise, migration was reduced to no more than a trickle again this morning. The first Little Ringed Plover of the spring moved north over Stanpit, where there were still 5 adult Mediterranean Gull and a first-year Yellow-legged Gull. Around 30 Sand Martin were feeding over Priory Marsh, with up to another 12 seen from Hengistbury, four of which were clearly prospecting the cliffs for suitable nest sites. There were 2 Wheatear in the Barn Field with another 2 on Stanpit, just a single Firecrest by the Nursery, 2 Blackcap and 1 Swallow; while around 15 Chiffchaff were singing over the area. A drake Pintail was in Barn Bight and 5 Little Grebe were present. On Stanpit there were 80 Black-tailed Godwit, also 15 in Wick Hams, 20 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin.
On a glorious spring day, when the threatened showers never materialised, there was a little bit more in the way of migration. The highlights were another Osprey, just after 1pm, seen over the river making its way north and the presence of at least 8 Firecrest in the Wood adjacent to the Nursery. The first Swallow of the spring, two birds in fact, moved through, as did 20 Sand Martin. There were also 26 Wheatear on Hengistbury today plus 35 Chiffchaff, 10 Goldcrest and 2 Willow Warbler were in song. A Fieldfare headed west over the Barn Field, while Rook, Jackdaw and Great-spotted Woodpecker were all logged. As one would expect given the conditions, raptors were much in evidence with 2 Peregrine seen from both Stanpit and Wick, 10 Common Buzzard soaring to the north-east; also 4 Kestrel and 2 Sparrowhawk about the area. Two adult Mediterranean Gull moved west over the HHC, another 5 adults were reported from Stanpit and an immature bird was also seen. Barn Bight held 3 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe and 84 Black-tailed Godwit. The 3 drake Gadwall were still present and 2 Shoveler left the harbour. At sea, a lone Sandwich Tern was fishing offshore and 5 Red-breasted Merganser were seen, 3 east and 2 west.
Finally thanks to Mark Andrews for his entertaining talk on Israel which followed the CHOG AGM at the HHC on Friday evening.
Despite a strong south-westerly breeze, there were a few bits and pieces around this morning. On Hengistbury, there was a small fall of migrants with at least 8 Firecrest, 50 Chiffchaff, 30 Goldcrest, 5 Blackcap, 3 Wheatear and the first Willow Warbler of the year, while more than 370 Meadow Pipit were logged arriving high over the Beach Huts. At sea, another first for the year was notched up when a drake Garganey flew west; also 11 Kittiwake, 4 Fulmar and a Sandwich Tern moved west, with 18 Common Gull and 10 Common Scoter east. There was just a single Purple Sandpiper on the end groyne, a Peregrine was seen offshore and the Red-legged Partridge was on the Barn Field. Waders today included 96 Black-tailed Godwit in Barn Bight and 17 Ringed Plover on Stanpit. Finally, an Osprey moving north was seen from just outside the recording area this morning.
A total wash-out this morning with no reports received so far.
We've now received details of the colour-ringed Avocet that spent a couple of days on Stanpit earlier this week. The bird was ringed on 18th June 2003 in France at Reserve Naturelle des Marais de Sene, which is located on the Golfe du Morbihan, just south of Vannes on the Atlantic coast. Since then, it has been reported on 64 occasions, with all reports coming from within a few kilometres of where it was first ringed. The last sighting in France was on 6th June 2007.
Apologies for the slightly later than normal post, however, the neighbourhood has been somewhat distracted by a major fire in The Woolpack at Sopley. Despite the almost balmy early conditions, there are still few migrants to report. For example, only a maximum of 6 Wheatear on the Barn Field; but having said that, I guess 435 Meadow Pipit and 78 Linnet north is not too shabby. Both Coal Tit and Redpoll are more closely associated with the opposite end of the year, so singles of each on Hengistbury is certainly noteworthy. More expected in the season though, are Mediterranean Gull - with at least 4 over the area this morning. From Fisherman's Bank early on, there were 7 Grey Plover in Stanpit Bight, but these were gone by the afternoon, when 96 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit were present, also 32 Shelduck. The now regular bachelors club of 3 Gadwall was on Wick Hams and the Pintail was at Stanpit. Little else to mention bird wise, but a brace of Peacock butterfly were on the wing by the HHC boardwalk.
A trickle of Meadow Pipit, 225 in all, over Stanpit this morning, along with a single White Wagtail on the deck, were the only indication of any movement in what is fast becoming a disappointing month. It was noteworthy that a Bearded Tit was again heard in the Great Spires reedbed and 9 Chiffchaff were about the marsh, while the pair of Great-spotted Woodpecker is still around. Yesterday's helicopter was again causing a problem - bringing, amongst a host of other things, a Snipe off Priory Marsh. For the second day in succession, there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull present, this time by Crouch Hill and a Mediterranean Gull of the same maturity passed over and out to sea. There was a clean sweep of the quality lone waders around Stanpit Bight, comprising: the colour-ringed Avocet, the Spotted Redshank, the Common Sandpiper and the Knot, also still 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. Other numbers from the marsh included: 134 Brent Goose, 112 Black-tailed Godwit, 78 Teal, 46 Ringed Plover, 36 Shelduck and 9 Ringed Plover, as well as a single Turnstone. The Pintail is still about, as are the 3 Gadwall by Barn Bight, with other Hengistbury news consisting of Siskin heard overhead, a Great-spotted Woodpecker in the Nursery and 3 Chiffchaff.
Still no significant migration to write about, however, there were a couple of small signs of moving birds. A single Avocet in the harbour this afternoon was colour-ringed, allowing it to be definitely stated as "new", while an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the HHC bar just before dusk was also certainly on its travels. With the exception of 2 Raven over Wick, plus 9 singing Chiffchaff about there and Hengistbury, it is left to Stanpit to make up the rest of the post. The Spotted Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot are all still present and correct, as is the first-summer drake Pintail. Brent Goose and Black-tailed Godwit numbers are both probably above average, 167 and 98 respectively, and 18 Turnstone on the South Marsh shingle patch could also be considered a good figure. Less remarkable though were 30 Dunlin and 5 Ringed Plover. One of the Peregrine was minding its own business on The Priory this afternoon, until it was flushed by a helicopter that landed close by!
With just a light northerly breeze, there were early, but ultimately foolhardy, hopes that migrants might take advantage of the slightly more clement weather. In fact, other than 3 White Wagtail with a mixed flock of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit on Priory Marsh, a Grey Wagtail over the HHC, 10-15 Linnet on Hengistbury and a few singing Chiffchaff dotted about the area, there was little to suggest it was spring. The sea was again devoid of action, just singles of Great-northern Diver and Great-crested Grebe into The Solent, while remaining interest from the head comprised: 5 Raven west, the 3 drake Gadwall on Wick Hams and a further Great-crested Grebe with 6 Little Grebe in Barn Bight. Trips to Fisherman's Bank this afternoon produced the Common Sandpiper, just left of Argyle Road slip, and the Knot in Stanpit Bight. Also counts of 180 Brent Goose, 55 Black-tailed Godwit, 43 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover and 1 Grey Plover. Now an update on the Cockatoo, which was captured by the Hengistbury rangers on Friday and is currently being cared for and its owner sought.
Mercifully, the wind dropped completely over night, resulting in more than a touch of frost. Unfortunately though, the clear skies soon clouded and early rain discouraged many from venturing out. In fact, the only report from the morning was of 17 Skylark together on Solent Meads golf course. Stanpit benefited from two afternoon visits, one drier than the other, and from looking at the photographs I am personally very thankful. The best from there were the Spotted Redshank on East Marsh and 1, but possibly 2, Bar-tailed Godwit in Stanpit Bight, as well as the Knot. Also 60 Black-tailed Godwit, some now looking rather spectacular, a Grey Plover, 20 or so Dunlin and 130 Brent Goose, while a littoralis Rock Pipit was on Grimmery Point.
Additional news: confirmation that, this morning, there were 2 Bar-tailed Godwit around, also 2 Sandwich Tern off Mudeford Quay.
With the weather being a continuation of yesterday, but perhaps even worse, those that took the time to help with the relaunch of the tern island didn't miss much. As usual, Eddie Lewis of Plant Works Ground Maintenance and was available bright and early with his trailer to bring the components of the island to Mayor's Mead slipway for construction. When there, the island was assembled by a CHOG team comprising Mark Andrews, Peter Fenning, Darren Hughes, David Taylor and Jan Toomer. Relief all round as it again remained afloat, ready for Barry Childs of Mister B's Marine Services to skilfully tow it to Parky Meade Rail, where it was anchored. Brian Smith of CHOG should also be acknowledged for his work on this project. CHOG would like to thank Bournemouth & West Hants Water Company, in particular Mike Rhodes, for their support and permission for the project. All of this taking place under the watchful gaze of a Priory Peregrine. A late morning visit to Hengistbury proved indeed that nothing had been missed - just a Merlin in off the sea and a Fulmar past to note. An afternoon lazy-tour of Argyle Road and Mudeford Quay saw: the Spotted Redshank off Fisherman's Bank, the Knot with 84 Black-tailed Godwit in Stanpit Bight, also 5 Ringed Plover and 2 Dunlin there; while 9 Turnstone were on the harbour shore by the dinghy park on the quay.
An awful north-westerly wind, meaning an almost birdless Hengistbury, reduced some of the locals (who will remain nameless, but the photo provides a clue!) to twitching parrots. Yesterday's opportunist arrived with a large bag and some nuts, which was interesting enough for the bird to feed from the hand - but it still eluded capture. Not to be outdone, the would-be trapper was last seen emerging from a Christchurch pet store with yet more nuts and a very large net! Almost as plastic as the Cockatoo, was a Red-legged Partridge on the Barn Field, but at least it can be listed; also a single Sand Martin through there and 2 Wheatear this afternoon. A quite desperate two hours spent looking at the sea produced the sum total of a lingering first-winter Mediterranean Gull and a distant diver sp. The 3 drake Gadwall were on Wick Hams and the adjacent Barn Bight held a Great-crested Grebe and 6 wintering Little Grebe, while the breeding pair were again noted on the Ironstone Quarry. To round off a poor day, a Peregrine was on The Priory this morning. The bad news is that it looks set to be even worse tomorrow.
A day of two large, white birds. Firstly, a Cattle Egret was seen from Priory Marsh, as it lifted from somewhere the other side of the river and headed low north, grabbing the attention of a couple of Herring Gull as it did so. Could be worth checking the Avon Valley for this one. Then came the comedy, with another sizeable white form, first seen over Hengistbury, then on the Batters, finally being pinned down as a Cockatoo. Apparently, these can change hands for as much as a £1000, sending one entrepreneurial local off after it! The bird was later seen over The Priory with an entourage of local mobbers. Anyway, back to the serious stuff: a couple of male Bearded Tit were seen chasing each other about the Great Spires reeds, which is very interesting; while limited overhead movement came courtesy of 200 Meadow Pipit, 25 alba Wagtail and 3 Siskin, all these over Stanpit. At least 3 Blackcap were in the damson bushes along the Purewell Stream and the Knot was with Redshank in Stanpit Bight. At sea, 2 each of Sandwich Tern, Fulmar and Common Scoter were noted.
Save for an easterly movement of Black-headed Gull, 570 in all, and a flock of 8 Mediterranean Gull, there was little sign of passage this morning. Although, a singing Firecrest at the end of the head may well have just arrived. Otherwise, just 2 Siskin and 10 or Chiffchaff can be turned in. A Red-throated Diver moved by at sea, as did a single Gannet, while a Great-crested Grebe was on the water, with another inside the harbour. A late Kingfisher was by Barn Bight, where there was also a group of 3 drake Gadwall, and a Great-spotted Woodpecker was again about the head.
Additional news: an Avocet and the drake Pintail were on Stanpit, as were c100 Brent Goose. Over on Hengistbury, a single Wheatear was by the Beach Huts.
A sudden chill in the weather was brought on by a brisk northerly breeze, which seemed to completely stifle migration. In fact, an early visit to Hengistbury could best be described as fruitless. An afternoon visit was equally disappointing in terms of arriving birds, but 19 Turnstone were on the harbour shore by the Noddy Train terminus, also 2 Ringed Plover and the singing Barn Field Dartford Warbler recorded. The best of the day came right on noon, as a female Marsh Harrier headed east over Stanpit recreation ground. Later on, counts were made from Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime and between 4:00 to 5:00, when the Common Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit were both present, as well as a drake Pintail; while other numbers included 189 Brent Goose, 42 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Dunlin, 16 Shelduck and 11 Ringed Plover. A walk across Priory Marsh an hour before dusk saw just the Greylag Goose and a 'Priory' Peregrine, as well as 50 or so Meadow Pipit. Meanwhile, a Mistle Thrush sang from somewhere around Two Riversmeet.
Additional news from Stanpit: 4 Wheatear, 3 males and 1 female, were on the southern edge of Crouch Hill and a Blackcap was singing in the North Scrubs.
It goes without saying that CHOG's second ever Rough-legged Buzzard was the highlight of the day. The previous being in the same month six years ago. Today's individual was picked up from Crouch Hill at 09:50 as it approached from the west. Panic then ensued across Stanpit, with even the 'brents' taking to the wing before settling down again after the bird had passed, quite low, eastwards towards Mudeford village. All of this usurping a Marsh Harrier that had earlier been seen heading slowly north. Further quality came from a drake Goosander, which also went northwards towards one of the two river valleys. Wheatear again feature with 11 on Stanpit and 3 on Hengistbury, also 6 Chiffchaff about northern area of the former site and a single Sand Martin over Wick. Wildfowl interest was maintained with 2 Gadwall and a Pintail in Stanpit Bight, but also a strange looking teal, which is now thought to be an escaped Ringed Teal. Meanwhile, the Brent Goose seem to be declining - just 80 or so from Fisherman's Bank today - but there was a reasonable count of 70 Redshank. To complete the day, 11 Black-tailed Godwit and a Great-crested Grebe were logged at Stanpit, and 11 Buzzard were on the wing over the Avon Valley.
Additional news: a Peregrine was seen over the Nursery and 2 Chiffchaff were about there.
A pretty grotty day punctuated with frequent showers and a buffeting north-westerly wind. In spite of this, some of the more hardy migrants continued to move through. At least 30 Chiffchaff, including a greyish looking eastern bird, were spread around the northern parts of the recording area, also a Blackcap there and a single Sand Martin over Wick Fields. Priory Marsh was, of course, checked for most of the day, but produced just 4 White Wagtail and a single Snipe. Wheatear were present throughout, but co-ordinated reports suggest they weren't hanging around for long. For example, a dozen present on Stanpit mid-afternoon were nowhere to be seen an hour later, however, all of a sudden, a further 7 materialised. Adding these to the morning total on Hengistbury gives a day count in excess of 20 birds, with the first females of the season mixed in. There were also 8 male Stonechat hopping about Crouch Hill in the afternoon, taking advantage of a break in the rain before moving on. The pick of the Stanpit waders were the recently arrived Knot and the long-staying Spotted Redshank, both off Fisherman's Bank at times, but also in Stanpit Bight; while these could only be complemented by 46 Black-tailed Godwit and 16 Dunlin. Along with the lingering 200 or so Wigeon and 180 Brent Goose, there were also drakes of Pintail and Shoveler on Stanpit, as well as 2 Gadwall and 14 Shelduck. The couple of Peregrine, today confirmed as adults, were around The Priory tower on and off for most of the day.
Omission: an adult Mediterranean Gull was bathing off Blackberry Point late in the day.
Additional news: Stanpit also held 5 Ringed Plover and 3 Great-crested Grebe, but, more interestingly, a Tawny Owl was heard from Wick Fields.
More seasonal debutantes today, as a Sandwich Tern headed east at sea and at least 4 Chiffchaff were singing in places where there haven't been any for a few months, namely, the Wood and the southern Wick Fields. Meanwhile, Sand Martin and Wheatear consolidated their position, with 9 of the former moving quickly through and 5 of the latter on Wick Fields, the Barn Field and at the end of the head. A single Redpoll was over Warren Hill, as was a Skylark and a Pochard, while 3 more of these headed up the river in the company of a Tufted Duck. Over 10 Mediterranean Gull were around in a mixture of adult and first-winter plumages, including 2 birds on Stanpit, where an Avocet and the Spotted Redshank were also present. A single Redpoll was by the HHC at dawn and, for a period afterwards, Meadow Pipits passed over high, probably in their hundreds, but the final figure is not yet in. As the tide fell, a total of 61 Black-tailed Godwit were in Barn Bight; also 11 Little Grebe and a single Snipe in there. At sea, a Guillemot and a Great-crested Grebe were on the water off the Long Groyne, a Fulmar inspected the cliffs and 4 Common Scoter passed by. Finally, there were also 2 Great-crested Grebe inside the harbour, and Great-spotted Woodpecker were in the North Scrubs and the Nursery.
Further news from Hengistbury has just been received, so rather than trying to slot it into the already prepared post, I'll add it here. The final Meadow Pipit total was 420, along with 16 alba Wagtail. By the afternoon, all the Wheatear had left, but there was an increase of Chiffchaff to 12 and a singing Blackcap in the Wood. To add to the morning's wildfowl interest, a flock of 14 Gadwall overflew the area, while the regular Mudeford Quay drake was again recorded. The wintering Bar-tailed Godwit was also seen from there and to reinforce the Chiffchaff arrival a bird was in gardens at the end of Argyle Road.
Despite the on and off rain throughout the day, the area enjoyed a reasonable amount of coverage. There was a good presence of Sand Martin on Hengistbury this morning - 14 in total around the cliffs at southern edge of the Barn Field - but that is the only record from the head. Around the same time, the first in-harbour Knot of the year was bagged from Argyle Road, also the Common Sandpiper there, along with 14 newly arrived Ring Plover, 6 Grey Plover, 25 Turnstone and 55 Dunlin. Later in the day, most of these seemed to have left, but 57 Black-tailed Godwit were around Stanpit Bight, as well as a good count of 27 Shelduck, while a leucistic drake was amongst the Teal. Getting towards dusk, a flock of over 100 Meadow Pipit, presumably migrants, was on Solent Meads golf course and there were several Stonechat in unfamiliar spots.
Before the drizzle set in around late morning, today saw the first real passage of the impending spring, which is now officially just 8 days away. A total of 330 Meadow Pipit headed north over Hengistbury, as did 35 alba Wagtail, of which 4 were identifiable as White Wagtail. The best though was a Water Pipit briefly about the Coastguards, while a male Yellowhammer went over the Batters; where a Firecrest was considered to be the season's first migrant, as opposed to a wintering bird. A certain winterer, however, is the Common Sandpiper, again adjacent to the Argyle Road slip. At least 84 Black-tailed Godwit were in the harbour, including a couple now in full breeding-plumage with some others very close behind; also 5 Grey Plover and 10 Turnstone on Blackberry Point, over 205 Brent Goose in Stanpit Bight and 25 Dunlin scattered around. The male Peregrine was on The Priory tower at 11:45 before leaving eastwards and, at sea, a Great-northern Diver followed suit.
Additional news: a Kingfisher was along the Purewell Stream.
More effort today, but scant reward, with the only sightings reported being a Peregrine hunting low over the sea, 11 Little Grebe in Barn Bight and a Grey Wagtail over Wick late afternoon. Two Swallow north over Bridge Street, Christchurch, were a near miss, being just outside the recording area. Finally, yesterday's entry has now been updated, the original report having been lost in the e-post.
Additional news: a couple of Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes, while a male Peregrine came in off, and 7 Kittiwake and 4 Common Scoter passed east. A Pochard was in Barn Bight and a Great-crested Grebe was further out in the harbour.
A much more settled day, but unfortunately there are no reports to post. However, the Wheatear mystery has been solved - a male was on Warren Hill on Saturday 8th, making it the first of the year.
Update - a seawatch early this morning produced a Great Skua west, 2 first-winter Mediterranean Gull and 4 Purple Sandpiper, with 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 6 Goldcrest in the woods.
After a night and day of lashing wind and rain, it was a tale of two seawatches. This morning saw the year's first Manx Shearwater passing close to the west, as well as a Great Skua east. However, the best record was a couple of Black-necked Grebe, both coming into breeding-plumage, sat just off the Beach Huts before departing westward. Also logged were: 3 Red-throated Diver, 3 Fulmar, 2 Kittiwake, a drake Red-breasted Merganser, 10-15 Gannet and a single Common Scoter; along with 18 Grey Plover moving down-channel. Spurred on by the morning's successes, a second stint was undertaken this afternoon, between 2:00 and 4:00. This proved to be considerably less exciting the first - in fact, other than the customary local gulls, there was just the corpse of a Razorbill drifting east to remark upon. No prizes for guessing when I elected to be present! The Purple Sandpiper, 11 in total, had obviously decided the groynes were far too hazardous to cling to. Instead, they were running around the surf line doing a passable impression of sanderling, also 2 Dunlin and 20 or so Turnstone involved with them. Amazingly, there was some evidence of overnight passerine movement, with 5 Redwing being in the Wood early on, while a Firecrest would seem likely to be the over-wintering bird. A group of 3 Pochard were in the harbour, and 40+ Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Pintail were on Wick Hams. Finally: apparently, there is a pager services report of a Wheatear on Warren Hill, Hengistbury, over Saturday lunchtime. If anyone has further details they would be much appreciated, as the bird would pre-date yesterday's presumed first.
The first Wheatear of 2008 was on the Barn Field at 12:35 today. The bird certainly arrived after 10:45 and was gone by late afternoon. It's a strange situation - so much anticipation for a species that will now be recorded almost daily until well into May, likewise from August to October. Something much rarer, however, and the first since February 2003, was a Bewick's Swan over Wick Fields around 5:00 this evening. The bird appeared to come down onto Clay Pool but, despite being looked for from Stanpit, could not be refound. Until all this excitement, the record of the day was being held by 2 Woodlark, which headed south over Wick Fields at 7:30. Amazingly, these were not the first of the year, a singleton having been on Stanpit in January. A pair of Linnet were on the Barn Field, while a Dartford Warbler was in full song and very obliging in the north-east corner of the same spot. A couple of Mediterranean Gull passed through - an adult over Wick towards Stanpit and a first-winter west over the Double Dykes - a pair of Pintail were off Fisherman's Bank and 3 Turnstone were on the sandspit. The pair of Little Grebe remain settled on the Ironstone Quarry; one, presumably the male, in complete breeding plumage, but the other is still in full winter dress.
Omission: a Mistle Thrush was seen and heard singing across the river from Two Riversmeet.
Any hopes of a weekend inrush of migrants were dashed by a brisk south-westerly and some pretty nasty accompanying showers; and with reportedly the lowest depression of the winter on its way, things are likely to be on hold for a while yet. Rather predictably therefore, it was down to the Beach Huts for the morning. An exercise that wasn't entirely without merit. The best was probably a couple of female Eider into The Solent, likewise a single Red-throated Diver and female Red-breasted Merganser, the latter spending a brief time in the harbour. At least 2 Peregrine were at sea - an immature female went west and adult males birds were seen doing the same on two occasions, although they could have been the same patrolling in vain for incoming migrants. Also westward were: a close Great-northern Diver, which had already acquired some breeding feathers, a drake Red-breasted Merganser, a single Common Scoter, 3 Kittiwake and 12 Gannet. There was also a light, up-channel movement of Common Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. A party of 6 Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes part way down the sandspit and, over on East Marsh, the Spotted Redshank was still present. An afternoon seawatch was also undertaken and this produced a further Great-northern Diver and 3 Common Scoter, also a Grey Plover and Knot west. From Wick, a Blackcap, recently reported as wintering in gardens that border the recording area, was today seen from within, but little else from there. Remaining Hengistbury snippets comprise: a Raven over the Coastguards, a Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Jay and a few Goldcrest in the Wood, a pair of Gadwall in Barn Bight, and 10 Canada Goose and 2 Greylag Goose leaving over the Barn Field; meanwhile, Stanpit was able to contribute 60 Dunlin and 3 Pintail.
Additional news: the year's first Wheatear, a male, was on Warren Hill from possibly lunchtime, but certainly at 5:30 in the evening.
Although outings were made to Wick Fields and around Stanpit golf course, there is unfortunately little, in fact nothing, to comment upon.
A day for Mistle Thrush with two of the pairs that breed immediately adjacent to the area being conspicuous. A male was heard singing in The Priory grounds from Stanpit this morning, while the Sandhill caravan park residents were hopping around on the grass on Mudeford Quay in the afternoon. The sea was considerably livelier than of late, with 3 Eider and 2 Red-breasted Merganser west, also a couple of Great-crested Grebe on the water. Earlier, 2 Red-throated Diver had likewise headed west, but high over the harbour itself. To wrap up on Hengistbury, there were 3 Raven around the Coastguards for a short time. The drake Gadwall was again close into Mudeford Quay and the Common Sandpiper twice gave itself up along Fisherman's Bank.
Additional news: a couple of Mediterranean Gull were on the HHC bar and 2 Rook went over.
More news: a total of 5 Pintail, three of them drakes, were on East Marsh, Stanpit, and 13 Black-tailed Godwit were resting up with them.
A day earlier than last year, the first Sand Martin was seen over the area - a single bird north over Wick floods towards Stanpit late this afternoon - with another certain migrant being a White Wagtail on Crouch Hill this morning. Also seen from that area were 186 Brent Goose, but all seemingly dark-bellied, and 73 Black-tailed Godwit, as well as an adult Mediterranean Gull. Late in the day, a pair of Peregrine were roosting almost along side each other on The Priory tower, which is rather encouraging, and earlier the couple of Great-spotted Woodpecker were still frequenting the North Scrubs. In the clear skies, at least 11 Buzzard were counted on the wing above the lower Avon Valley, while the male Blackcap was again in song in Smithy's Field, also a Chiffchaff there and another on Wick, where a Grey Wagtail was by the Wooden Bridge and a Jackdaw passed over. Something of a personal achievement this afternoon, when I eventually connected with the Fisherman's Bank Common Sandpiper after almost four months of trying; also a drake Gadwall in the harbour from Mudeford Quay. Finally, Wick Fields is becoming something of a Pheasant lek with up to 5 males and 13 females recently seen in one of the paddocks.
A bitterly cold day failed to deter a couple of stalwarts from brief sojourns onto Wick and Hengistbury. This morning on the former, there was a herd of 5 Curlew and a kit of 6 Pheasant, while a Grey Wagtail, potentially a migrant, passed over the HHC. The regular 24 Black-tailed Godwit were again on Wick Hams and, this evening, a Peregrine was over The Priory.
Although the day started fine and clear, there was only limited early morning activity and, by lunchtime, some pretty ferocious hail showers had set in. These, coupled with a cold northerly breeze, limited birding to the car on Mudeford Quay, where 12 Turnstone were feeding on the shore by the dinghy park. From there, the Brent Goose number on Stanpit again seemed high, perhaps as many as 200 birds estimated when they briefly took the air after something had spooked them.
The last WeBS count of the winter ensured the harbour received quite a bit of coverage throughout the morning. The Brent Goose were interesting in that only 135 were logged by 09:30, but later 220 were present for an hour or so, the newer arrival containing an adult, pale-bellied hrota bird, which remained into the afternoon at least. Other goodies included the Spotted Redshank heard from Crouch Hill and the Bar-tailed Godwit accompanying the other godwits in Stanpit Bight for a brief time. Over on the sandspit, there was just 1 Purple Sandpiper to be seen today, this time on groyne S9 with 3 Turnstone, also a couple each of Grey Plover and Ringed Plover in the same area. Meanwhile, the river weighed in with a drake Gadwall and a healthy count of 12 Little Grebe, these from the HHC slip. As spring approaches, Mediterranean Gull records are likely to become daily and this morning saw an adult over Central Marsh, a first-winter from Fisherman's Bank and an un-aged individual from Hengistbury. Further signs of the impending season were provided by a sub-singing Blackcap in Smithy's Field and a Stonechat in full voice on the Long Field; while a Peregrine was again on the tower. Conversely, however, there are still Goldcrest about the Wood on Hengistbury - half a dozen seen in The Nursery today - and a Kingfisher was around Parky Meade Rail. For those so inclined, other selected counts are made up of: 404 Wigeon, 127 Teal, 94 Redshank, 83 Mute Swan, a good 81 Black-tailed Godwit, a declining 58 Coot, 46 Oystercatcher, 9 Curlew, 3 Dunlin and 2 Snipe. Given the numbers earlier in the week, the low count of the latter is almost certainly spurious and probably reflects the tidal conditions of the day.
The first day of the month during which we'll see the vanguard of the spring migration. However, there was little to shout about today. Probably the best was a Peregrine hunting out at sea, where it attempted to nab, albeit unsuccessfully, a passing auk. But despite a two hour vigil, only a handful of Gannet and 2 Brent Goose west could be added to the list from Beach Huts; although a couple of Purple Sandpiper about the sandspit did relieve the tedium. A pair of Raven were again over the Nursery, while a Dartford Warbler was in full song amid the gorse just beyond the Barn. The remaining interest came from Wick Hams, where 16 Black-tailed Godwit were roosting. A further trip to Hengistbury this afternoon served only to confirm just how bad it had been earlier in the day!